Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

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Book Reviews

Unscripted: The Unpredictable Moments That Make Life Extraordinary by Ernie Johnson Jr. Baker Books. 224 pages. 2017
****

The popular host of “Inside the NBA” shares unscripted moments in his life which he called “Blackberry Moments”. He encourages us to embrace these moments and the blessings in our lives. In this book, he includes some wonderful stories and memories from his personal and professional life and how God has worked in his life. Included in the book are excerpts from his writings (eulogy, poems, journals); his writing (and narration of the audiobook edition), is witty and humorous.
Family is extremely important to the author. He and his wife Cheryl have six children, including four that they have adopted, one that has special needs and two of whom who had endured the sex trafficking industry.
His father, Ernie Johnson Sr., was the best man in his wedding and his best friend. He was a pitcher in the major leagues and later the broadcaster of the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves. The two would work together in the booth for Braves games. Ernie Jr. gave the eulogy for his father in 2011. The text of that moving message is included here. His parents were married for 63 years. His father was the greatest influence on his life.
Ernie wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and play in the major leagues, but after getting cut from the University of Georgia baseball team as a sophomore, he pursued a career in the media. He would start doing the news, but would quickly move to sports.
He would meet his future wife Cheryl while she was working as a bank teller. She would later serve in a number of non-profit organizations in Atlanta.  He includes touching stories about son Michael with Muscular Dystrophy, his fascination with cars and his significant health issues.
He writes about hosting “Inside the NBA” for 25 years with Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley, and more recently with Shaquille O’Neill. Of particular interest was his decision to choose to attend his son’s high school graduation rather than broadcast an important seventh game of an NBA postseason series.
Raised Roman Catholic, Ernie writes of his faith being dormant. He was drawn to Christ in 1997 at Crossroads Church in Georgia (now known as 12Stone Church). Wife Cheryl would be drawn to Christ a few years later.
Ernie noticed a bump on his face one day while shaving. He would wait six months to have it looked at by a doctor, and would be diagnosed with stage 2 Follicular Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He would eventually go through six cycles of chemotherapy. Afterwards, he would have a new appreciation for life.
It was a joy to read this book and hear about how God has worked in Ernie’s life.

  • The Death of Reading is Threatening the Soul. Philip Yancy writes “I am going through a personal crisis. I used to love reading. I am writing this blog in my office, surrounded by 27 tall bookcases laden with 5,000 books. Over the years I have read them, marked them up, and recorded the annotations in a computer database for potential references in my writing. To a large degree, they have formed my professional and spiritual life.”
  • The Banner of Truth Turns 60 Years Old. Justin Taylor writes that sixty years ago, Iain Murray, along with Jack Cullum and Sidney Norton, officially founded Banner of Truth, the Reformed-evangelical publisher that began out of Westminster Chapel in London in 1957.
  • Remembering a Friend. Ken Blanchard writes “Spencer Johnson, M.D., author of Who Moved My Cheese? and my coauthor on The One Minute Manager® and The New One Minute Manager®, died last week from pancreatic cancer.”
  • Man’s Family Forced to Sleep in Tent After Being Displaced by Theology Book CollectionThe Babylon Bee, Your Trusted Source for Christian News Satirereports ““I offered them a comfy place to sleep atop Calvin’s Institutes, but they turned it down,” the man said while sitting on a throne fashioned out of dozens of systematic theologies. “So we got out the old camping gear and I tried to make them a comfortable place out on the lawn.”  
    The Younger Brother.
     Watch this ten-minute video from Tim Keller, based on his book The Prodigal God.
  • He Will Hold Me Fast. Tim Challies reviews Connie Dever’s book He Will Hold Me Fast. He writes “Written in an informal tone, sometimes even preserving some of the verbiage and quirks of an online journal, this is an honest, urgent, encouraging account of loss and gain. I’m so glad I read it.”

BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch. Baker Books. 224 pages. 2017

In this important new book, Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making, draws on in-depth original research from the Barna Group, and shows readers that the choices we make about technology have consequences we may never have considered. He takes readers beyond the typical questions of what, where, and when and instead challenges them to answer provocative questions like, Who do we want to be as a family? and How does our use of a particular technology move us closer or farther away from that goal? Anyone who has felt their family relationships suffer or their time slip away amid technology’s distractions will find in this book a path forward to reclaiming their real life in a world of devices.

Foreword: Amy Crouch 

  • I think the best part of tech-wise parenting, for me, has been its focus on “something older and better than the newest thing.” The key word is better.
  • Tech-wise parenting isn’t simply intended to eliminate technology but to put better things in its place.
  • Tech-wise parenting has added wonder to my life, though, and that’s enough.

Preface: The Proper Place 

  • This book is about how to find the proper place for technology in our family lives—and how to keep it there.
  • If we don’t learn to put technology, in all its forms, in its proper place, we will miss out on many of the best parts of life in a family.
  • What it all adds up to is a set of nudges, disciplines, and choices that can keep technology in its proper place—leaving room for the hard and beautiful work of becoming wise and courageous people together. Indeed, becoming wise and courageous is what family is really about—and it is what this book is really about, too.
  • The Barna team set out to document the role technology actually plays in American families and the concerns that both parents and children have about it. This new research is presented in these pages, with findings that are sometimes encouraging, sometimes unsettling, and always illuminating.
  • Throughout this book you’ll get a picture, from the graphs, charts, and sidebars, of the current reality of technology and family life, and a vision, from the text, of what could be a better way.
  • Figuring out the proper place for technology in our particular family and stage of life requires discernment rather than a simple formula.

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence. I’m married to my best friend. I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 100 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people determine their callings, develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. My favorite book is the Bible, and some other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

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